Tree Crew Internship

Tree Crew Interns, Moms Bonded by Grief, and Bartram’s Garden staff after planting a new memorial grove together in November 2021. Photograph courtesy of Kromah Studio.

Trees as restorative justice

Do you want to improve your community’s environmental, physical, and mental health? Join the Tree Crew!

Our Tree Crew interns act as tree ambassadors by learning to plant and care for trees in our community. Students become trained as PHS Tree Tenders and explore the intersectionality of trees through ecology, art, politics, history, and culture. 

The internship program includes intensive outdoor work in spring and fall. The Tree Crew annually employs up to 10 paid high school interns from Southwest Philadelphia.

Why care for trees?

Trees are an integral part of our city’s infrastructure and should be treated as such. The presence of trees in a community improves environmental health, physical health, and mental health; having trees in a neighborhood also correlates to reduced crime rates and protection against urban blight.

Systemic racism has devastated landscapes, rural and urban alike. Cities have suffered enormous amounts of air, water, and noise pollution, with ensuing negative impacts on health and mental well-being. Philadelphia has a tree canopy coverage of only 20%, with as little as 2.5% in some areas. Last year, the City set a goal of expanding citywide tree coverage to 30%. Planting (and maintaining!) trees is vital to the future health of our communities.

Who Is Eligible

Applications for this competitive program are accepted seasonally. In order to be eligible to apply, you must:

  • Live, attend school, or have other personal connections in Southwest Philadelphia, especially in the neighborhoods of Kingsessing, Eastwick, Elmwood Park, or Cobbs Creek; and
  • Be aged 15 to 18 at the time of participation. Students must be at least rising 10th graders at the time of participation (entering 10th grade by the fall); students can work the summer after graduating high school.

There is no academic requirement to apply; however, participating interns are supported to maintain at least a C average in all their classes.

General Activities

  • Take the PHS Tree Tender Training course and become certified Tree Tenders
  • Explore the intersectionality of trees through subjects like ecology, art, politics, history, and cultural importance
  • Support community planting on PHS tree planting days
  • Work alongside horticulturists to plant within Bartram’s Garden
  • Canvass neighbors within the Southwest Tree Tender Group area (49th Street to 65th Street, Chester Avenue to Lindbergh Boulevard) to get residents involved in tree planting and care
  • Lead seasonal tree tours and community science activities
  • Collaborate with peer interns at the Sankofa Community Farm and Denkyem River Guardians
  • Connect with professionals from varied careers, including arborists, landscape architects, environmentally minded politicians, crafters that work with wood in sustainable ways, and more

Apply

Applications are not currently being accepted for this program. For more information, please contact Tree Program Coordinator Merissa MacDonald at trees@bartramsgarden.org.

This program was established in partnership with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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